In his cookbook, “Son of a Southern Chef: Cook with Soul” (Avery, 2019) chef Lazarus Lynch writes that in his neighborhood in Queens, N.Y., there’s a place called St Best Jerk Spot that jerks and smokes all day. “You can smell the jerk blocks away; it’s wonderful. I tear up at the smell of jerk thinking about its spicy punch, and because the way I feel about jerk could actually make me cry. Jerk chicken can be as spicy or as mild as you’d like it to be.” Serve this with Mango Chutney as a condiment, and with a side of rice and peas or coconut rice.
Make ahead: The chicken needs to marinate for 8 to 24 hours in the refrigerator before grilling.
Storage: The wet jerk marinade can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
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6 to 8 servings
Jerk chicken can be as spicy or as mild as you’d like it to be, and a Mango Chutney will cool it down. Serve with a side of rice and peas or coconut rice.
MAKE AHEAD: The chicken needs to marinate for 8 to 24 hours in the refrigerator before grilling.
The wet jerk marinade can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week.
This recipe is adapted from “Son of a Southern Chef: Cook with Soul” by Lazarus Lynch (Avery, 2019).
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For the wet jerk marinade
2 cups (14 ounces) chopped yellow onions
2 cups (7 ounces; 2 bunches) chopped scallions
2 Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles
1 cup (1 ounce) fresh cilantro
1/4 cup mango nectar, such as Goya
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon browning sauce, such as Kitchen Bouquet
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (from 2 to 3 sprigs), or a generous 1/4 teaspoon dry
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For the chicken
8 to 10 skin-on bone-in chicken pieces (4 to 5 pounds total)
2 cups Wet Jerk Marinade, divided
1 cup your favorite store-bought barbecue sauce
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
Canola oil, for grilling
Mango Chutney, for serving (see related recipe)
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Make the wet jerk marinade: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the onions, scallions, chiles, cilantro, mango nectar, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, allspice, browning sauce, salt, pepper and thyme and pulse about 10 times, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until almost smooth but still slightly chunky. (Depending on the size of your food processor bowl, you may need to gradually add the ingredients as you process them.) Use right away or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until needed. (The recipe makes 3 cups of marinade; you’ll need 2 cups for the chicken.)
Make the chicken: In a large bowl, combine the chicken with 1 1/2 cups of the marinade, turning the pieces to coat evenly. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.
Let the chicken rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
While the chicken is resting, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the remaining 1/2 cup marinade, the barbecue sauce and stock and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 5 minutes. If the sauce begins to scorch, lower the heat slightly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce for 1 more minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Prepare a gas grill for direct heat, on medium-high (450 degrees). Grease the grates with cooking oil.
Grill the chicken without moving it, skin side down, until golden brown and the chicken no longer sticks to the grill, 10 to 12 minutes. Flip the chicken and reduce the heat to medium. Cover the grill and cook the chicken, without flipping, until dark brown, 30 to 40 minutes more, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat, not touching the bone, registers 165 degrees. After the first 20 minutes, brush the chicken with the jerk sauce on all sides. Continue to brush now and then, brushing more frequently as you get close to the chicken being cooked, until you run out of sauce.
Serve the chicken warm with Mango Chutney on the side.
NOTE: For extra smoke flavor, soak wood chips (apple, hickory or pecan) in cold water for about 6 hours, then place them in a smoke tray or wrapped in aluminum foil with holes poked in the top. Set the chips over the burner in your grill. Cook the chicken over indirect heat.
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Per serving (based on 8): 464 calories, 37 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 26 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 137 mg cholesterol, 731 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 13 g sugar